SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah lawmaker wants to reverse a Utah law that grants in-state tuition to college students who are also illegal immigrants.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, will be considered when the Utah Legislature convenes in January.
Utah law allows illegal immigrants who graduated from a Utah high school to pay in-state rates.
Wimmer's bill doesn't propose blocking access to education for students based on citizenship status. Wimmer said the tuition break is unfair to American-born citizens.
"Many of them will still go to college. They'll just have to pay the full rate. It's fundamentally unfair that an American-born citizen from Evanston, Wyo., would have to pay more to go to the University of Utah than an illegal immigrant. It's fundamentally flawed."
Should the bill pass, the rate change for immigrant students -- historically about 300 students annually -- would be significant.
Currently, in-state tuition rates for a student taking 12 units at the University of Utah is $2,645 per semester. Out-of-state students pay $8,313.
Previous attempts to pass similar legislation have failed.
But Wimmer said he expects to be successful, mainly because Congress recently failed to pass an immigration bill, often referred to as the Dream Act, that would have allowed students brought to the U.S. illegally to use education or military service to earn residency and permanent status.
Utah-based Dream Act activist Antonella Packard calls Wimmer's proposal a mistake. Under federal law, taxpayers are already mandated to educate illegal immigrant students through high school, so there's little point to slamming the door on higher education for those who qualify, Packard said.